Russell Wilson sets tone in Broncos' OTAs with 'wild obsession' with winning

Pro Bowler showed dexterity, fluidity in coach Hackett's red zone offense
Broncos Football
Posted at 9:20 PM, May 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-23 23:20:31-04

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Russell Wilson wears an easy smile and views life through a well-lit lens.

However, mention the importance of establishing a culture for a franchise that has posted five straight losing seasons and Wilson's teeth vanish.

"You've got to set the tone every day. There is no other option," said Wilson to my question after Monday's OTA practice. "If you want to win and you want to win it all, and you want to be the best in the world as a team, there is no other option. So that's what we have to do. It's a wild obsession everyday. And also, you have to be able to enjoy the moment. But winning is a lifestyle."

Russell Wilson sets tone in Broncos' OTAs with 'wild obsession' with winning

At times, Wilson talks like a bumper stick come to life. But no one is complaining. More like nodding their head at the stop sign. He brings energy, attitude and attention to detail that remains infectious. The nine-time Pro Bowler hustled between drills like a rookie trying to make the team. He made plays off script. He worked up a sweat.

In team period of 11 on 11, 1s vs. 1s, Wilson provided a glimpse of his competitive nature that has created a seismic shift in his new organization. He took the snap, scrambled, reversed direction and fired a touchdown on the run to rookie Montrell Washington. Moments later, he rolled right and drilled a dart in the end zone to Travis Fulgham, both times the offensive players greeting Wilson like it was a regular season highlight.

"It was touchdown after touchdown," said Wilson, who typically arrives at the facility around 5 a.m., admitting he sleeps roughly four hours per night. "It's been a lot of a fun. We have a really good system and amazing stuff we are doing. Guys are getting open and making plays. Great catches. And the defense was making plays, too. It was such a competitive practice. It felt like championship week in OTA 1."

Most encouraging in this small sample size is the blending of Wilson's passion with coach Nathaniel Hackett's purpose. Wilson knows how to operate a West Coast offense, running a version of it for the last decade. Hackett aims to make Wilson as comfortable as possible, molding the scheme to the star's strengths. It starts in the meeting rooms with Hackett, offensive coordinator Justin Outten and quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak.

"It's very intense, so much communication, so much talking. That's all you can ask for as a coach because we need to be an extension of each other. I need to know everything he likes and vice versa," said Hackett, whose father Paul, a former NFL and college coach, was a guest at Monday's workout. "We have to be on the same page because he's the one out there making plays. And when we are out here and our conversations come alive, that's when you get more confidence in each other and build that trust. That's what it's all about."

Even when the drills changed to 7-on-7, Wilson's momentum continued. He hit Tim Patrick and Courtland Sutton for crossing routes for touchdowns.

"I love going against him," safety Justin Simmons said. "It's only going to make us better."

Monday's OTA practice was voluntary. Among those who were not attendance: running back Melvin Gordon, safety Kareem Jackson (at his daughter's graduation, per Simmons) and Bradley Chubb. ...

Wilson explained that his friendship with Peyton Manning is growing stronger. Manning has helped Wilson's family make the transition to Denver, and the two quarterbacks spend time watching film together. "It's fun to be around arguably the greatest to ever to play the position, to be able to learn and ask questions," Wilson said.